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Vietnamese Meatballs with Sweet & Tangy Dipping Sauce

Photography by Harlow & May Studios.

These Vietnamese-Style Meatballs are packed with flavor and spice. Serve them over a bed of warm coconut sticky rice for an easy weeknight dinner.

I first came about crafting this recipe while doing some recipe development for last year’s Farm Girls Supper Club in Round Top. I drew my inspiration for this recipe from Elizabeth Street Café in Austin, Texas, where they make the most delicious spicy pork meatballs. If you have never been to Elizabeth Street Café, then you need to make a trip.

Traditionally, this recipe is made with all pork. However, I like using a mixture of ground chicken and ground pork. You can also you ground turkey for this recipe, but I have found that ground chicken and pork work best.

You can serve these meatballs a variety of different ways, such as: inside a pho soup, on a lettuce wrap, over a bed of vermicelli noodles or even by themselves! I also love serving this dish over a nice bed of warm coconut rice! They also make for a great party appetizer, served over a bed of shredded cabbage or with big leafy greens. (If you serve as an appetizer, I highly recommend serving with toothpicks because they can get a little messy.)

My favorite part about this recipe is that you can either bake the meatballs or fry them in a skillet. Either way you choose, they taste delicious! For this recipe, you can use a Vitamix or food processor to blend up all of the ingredients if you don’t want to chop by hand. It will definitely save you some extra time if you decide to go this route.

These meatballs are perfect to have on hand in the freezer and pull out for a weeknight meal! Sometimes, If I don’t feel like scooping the meatballs all at once, I will place the other half of meat mixture into a Ziploc and freeze for a later date. If I feel like going the extra step, I’ll go ahead and pre-scoop with my cookie scooper and then place into a container lined with parchment paper so that they keep their shape! (Tip: Don’t forget to label and date the container). The raw meatball mixture will keep in freezer for up to 3 months!

Photography by Harlow & May Studios.

Yield: About 15-20 Meatballs (2-inch size)


· 1 Pound Ground Pork

· 1 Pound Ground Chicken

· 2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce

· 6 Cloves Garlic, Minced

· 2 Tablespoons Fresh Ginger, peeled and grated

· ½ Cup White Onion, Grated

· ¼ Cup Green Onions (white and green parts)

· 1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

· ½ Teaspoon Black pepper

· ½ Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes

· 2 Tablespoons Siracha or Asian Chili Sauce

· 1 Lime, Zested

· 1/4 Cup Fresh Lime Juice

· 1 Egg

· ½ Cup Cilantro, plus more for garnish

· 1 Cup Panko Breadcrumbs

· 1 Cup Peanut Oil, for frying (You can use another type of oil if you prefer, make sure to use an oil with a high smoking point to keep the meatballs from burning)

· Sweet & Tangy Dipping Sauce (Recipe Follows)

· Fresh herbs for garnish, (Such as: Mint Sprigs, Thai Basil, Cilantro)

Serving Options:

· 1 Tablespoon Sesame Seeds, Toasted (for garnish)

· Romaine Heart (Use as lettuce cups)

· Coconut Sticky Rice (See Recipe)


· Cookie Scooper

· Microplane or Zester

· Large Non-stick Skillet

· Sheetpan

· Wax Paper



1. For the meatballs. In a large bowl, combine the fish sauce, garlic, ginger, white onion, green onion, salt, pepper, chili flakes, lime zest, lime juice, cilantro and egg. Whisk well to combine.

2. Add the ground pork, ground chicken and panko. Using your hands, mix until well combined.

3. Using a pre-measured cookie scooper or spoon, shape into 2-inch meatballs (about the size of a golf-ball).

4. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium to medium high heat. Add meatballs in small batches, and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. Meatballs should be golden brown.

5. Remove from skillet and place on sheet pan lined with paper towels to remove any excess oil.

6. Serve over bed of coconut rice or vermicelli noodles lightly drizzled with chili sauce. Garnish with fresh cilantro, mint, scallions or Thai basil.

Chef’s Notes:

· After the meatballs finish cooking in the skillet, place the meatballs on a paper towel to help drain off any excess oil.

· If you want to cut some of the calories, you can opt for baking the meatballs in the oven instead of frying. (This tip goes for any type of meatball or stuffing that involves raw meat). Baking Instructions: Bake at 425 degrees. Place meatballs on a sheet pan, lined with wax paper and lightly spray with a non-stick oil spray. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

· Another tip when making meatballs, I always make a tester meatball and fry in skillet before scooping and rolling out all of the meatballs. This is the best way to test the flavor and add in any extra last-minute ingredients before you go to the trouble of frying all of them.

Sweet & Tangy Dipping Sauce

This basic Vietnamese-Style vinaigrette style dipping sauce is very versatile and can be used on a variety of different items. It can be used as a vinaigrette on a salad, dipping sauce or even as a marinade for chicken and fish.


· 2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce

· 2 Tablespoons Tamari or Low-Sodium Soy Sauce

· 2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar or Mirin

· 2 tablespoons Asian Chili Sauce (Such as Sambal, Siracha or Thai Chili Sauce)

· 3 Tablespoons Lime juice

· 2 Cloves garlic, Minced

· 2 Tablespoons Honey, slightly warmed in microwave


1.) In a small microwaveable glass bowl, warm honey for 20-30 seconds or until honey thins out.

2.) In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients. Whisk until honey is dissolved. Taste and adjust flavors as needed to balance out the sweet and sour. (How much fish sauce you use depends on personal preference). Set aside until ready to serve.

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